Years ago I used to work in the office of a large synagogue and sadly I often found myself in the position where I needed to send a sympathy card to a congregant who had suffered a loss. Even though I knew the person who had suffered the loss, I didn’t always know the nature of their relationship with the person they were mourning. I wanted to offer condolences and support, but while I knew that it was a mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousin, who was being mourned, I didn’t always know how the congregant actually felt about the person.
I’d sit and stare at my stack of generic condolence cards and wonder which would be most appropriate. It’s hard to send a card that says “May remembering the happy times warm your heart,” when you have no idea if there ever were happy times. Sometimes a card would work, but often I’d hesitate to send anything for fear of sending something inappropriate.
This morning I had the occasion to head back to that synagogue for an event and being surrounded by all the people milling around reminded me of that time. I wish that I had had access to the Tiny Prints personalizable greeting cards service back then. It would have made it so much easier to send a card that said “I’m sorry for your loss and thinking of your fondly.” Something nice and comforting that wouldn’t open up any potentially painful wounds.